Zetland Passive House

  • Building Type : Isolated or semi-detached house
  • Construction Year : 1894
  • Delivery year : 2018
  • Address 1 - street : UK - M21 MANCHESTER, United Kingdom
  • Climate zone : [Cfb] Marine Mild Winter, warm summer, no dry season.

  • Net Floor Area : 374 m2
  • Construction/refurbishment cost : 1 010 000 €
  • Cost/m2 : 2700.53 €/m2

Certifications :

  • Primary energy need :
    43 kWhpe/m2.year
    (Calculation method : Other )
Energy consumption
Economical buildingBuilding
< 50A
51 à 90B
91 à 150C
151 à 230D
231 à 330E
331 à 450F
> 450G
Energy-intensive building

The Zetland Passive House project is the UK's first certified EnerPHit Plus retrofit. Originally built in 1894, this Passivhaus project is intended to provide a blueprint for retrofitting the UK's 8 million hard to treat homes built prior to 1930. Using natural, breathable building materials and reusing much of the existing fabric, the project is a pioneering example of sustainable low carbon retrofit.

The homes achieved a 95% reduction in space heating demand and a 7-fold reduction in carbon emissions. An 11kW PV system powers the smart hot water tank and a 2kw post heater piggy backing the MVHR system, removing the need for a traditional central heating system. 

While Passivhaus certification was a key part of the design, there were several other sustainable design philosophies and technologies adopted in order to minimize its carbon impact:

- Working within the existing footprint, using tiny house design principles to prevent the need to extend, reducing embodied energy
- Retention of existing fabric to minimise waste and maximise thermal mass potential
- Breathable, natural, petrochemical free building fabric
- Healthy internal environment (air filters, humidity control, VOC and CO
absorbing materials etc.) 

Honouring the UK's architectural history was just as important to the design team as creating a low carbon home. This property features the first Passivhaus stained glass windows and doors, as well as Victorian-style plaster cornicing and ceiling roses, decorative mosaic tiling, stone steps and ornate porch. 

The project has been an invaluable knowledge sharing exercise visited by more than 300 architects, policymakers, developers and thousands of homeowners. The Zetland Passive House has been featured in more than 50 media outlets, including the cover issue of Passive House + magazine. 

See more details about this project


Data reliability

3rd part certified


    Kit Knowles (Ecospheric) and Chris Rodgers (Guy Taylor Associates)

Construction Manager

    Kit Knowles (Ecospheric) Ian Jones (Environmental Building Services)



    Kit Knowles (Ecospheric)

    Certification company

    Kym Mead (Mead Consulting)

    Construction company

    Ecospheric Ltd

    Construction company

    Ecospheric Windows & Doors Ltd


    Phillips Building Services


    EBS (Environmental Building Services)




    John George Fine Cabinetry

Owner approach of sustainability

- blown cellulose insulation made from recycled newsprint

- reclaimed bricks, floorboards, and roof timbers

- thermally broken timber hybrid structure instead of carbon intensive steel joists

- slimline triple glazing angled to maximize solar gain

- thermostatically controlled roof light for passive cooling

- solid lime plaster interiors capable of absorbing CO2 and VOCs

- Graphene infused lime paint to prevent cracking

- pre-fossilized timber cladding naturally resistant to rot and UV degradation

- copper rainwater goods for maximum durability

- natural slate roof

- sustainable urban drainage solution made with recycled tires and stones

- greywater recycling toilets and flow restricted aerated water saving devices

- electromagnetic field (EMF) free design and LED lighting

- light fittings made from reclaimed and refurbished chandeliers and fixtures

- unlacquered antibacterial copper switches to prevent the spread of disease

- cabinetry made from locally harvested hardwood

- intelligent building membrane adopting biomimicry

- smart hot water tank with thermocline control halves energy and water consumption

Architectural description

Ecospheric Developments present a pair of Victorian townhouses that combine the beauty & character of a period property with the world's highest standards of energy efficiency.

The team have also reached way beyond the set requirements, embodying sustainability at every turn with low maintenance durable solutions & the incorporation of high quality, natural, breathable materials culminating in a virtually petrochemical free building fabric.

This project also has the world's first passive house stained glass, world's first Electromagnetic Field free internal environment, retention of the original fabric with no extension over the 1894 building and all external fabric elements designed for maximum breathability.

Energy consumption

  • 43,00 kWhpe/m2.year
  • Other

    Primary energy needs corresponds to Passivhaus PE value.
    Annual heating demand12 kWh /(m2a ) calculated according to PHPP
    Heating load11 W/m2
    Generation of renewable energy55 kWh /(m2a ) based on the projected area

Envelope performance

  • 0,17 W.m-2.K-1
  • Exterior wall
    Front walls: Victorian facing brick, 38mm cavity, 13mm Fermacel, 145mm Steico I-joists with Steico Floc blown cellulose in between, 80m Steico Protect Dry, 10mm
    Side walls: 14mm Therma lime render, 80mm Steico Protect Dry, 240mm Steico I-joists with Steico Floc blown cellulose in between, 250mm double layer of Victorian wire cut bricks with finger cavity, 10mm Thermalime plaster.U-value: 0.116 W/(m²K)
    Outrigger walls: Organowood cladding, Facade membrane, 300mm Steico I-joists with Steico Floc blown cellulose in between, Proclima Intello Membrane, 15mm gypsum plasterboard & skim.U-value: 0.132 W/(m²K)U-value = 0.116 W/(m2K)

    Basement floor / floor slabPine chevron or tiles with grout, 18mm Magply magnesium board, Proclima Intello Membrane, Steico I-joists/original floor joists with Steico Floc blown cellulose in between, 80mm Steico Protect Dry.
    U-value: 0.133 - 0.165 W/(m²K)
    U-value = 0.133 W/(m2K)

    Hook fixed slate on battens, Siga Majcoat, 60mm Steico Special Dry, 145mm - 300mm Steico I-joists mounted on 75mm original rafters with Steico Floc blown cellulose in between, Siga Majrex membrane, 15mm gypsum plasterboard & skim.
    U-value: 0.108-0.148 W/(m²K)
    U-value = 0.108 W/(m2K)

    Viking Windows AS supplied by Ecospheric, SW14 and DK88Triple glazed timber windows with Uw-value 0.68 - 0.72 W/(m²K). Features stained glass (World first!), curved units and traditional door conservation profiles.
    U w-value = 0.68 W/(m2K)

    Saint Gobain
    Ug ranges - 0.45 - 0/62 W/(m²K)U g-value = 0.45 W/(m2K)g -value = 1 %

    Entrance door
    Viking Windows AS supplied by Ecospheric Windows & Doors Ltd. SW14 and DK88 Doors triple glazed timber doors with 0.68 - 0.8 W/(m²K).Features stained glass, traditional mouldings and french doors.
    U d-value = 0.8 W/(m2K)

  • 1,00


    • Others
    • Wood boiler
    • Individual electric boiler
    • Double flow heat exchanger
    • Solar photovoltaic

    11kW Photovoltaic System that enables the properties to produce more energy than they consume - by Environmental Building Services

Water management

    Grey water recycling toilets

Indoor Air quality

    Airtight, mould free, solid lime plaster interiors capable of mopping up dangerous VOCs, setting down excess CO2 & buffering moisture for the ultimate healthy living environment.

    Bespoke solid timber & brass kitchen with Welsh slate worktops & A++ rated appliances - by John George Fine Cabinetry

    Unlacquered antibacterial copper electric switches throughout to help stop spread of disease within the household.

    Nobel prize winning super material Graphene has been formulated into our paints to prevent cracking - by Graphenstone

Construction and exploitation costs

  • 2 100 000

Urban environment

Situated in the heart of Chorlton, a leafy suburban neighbourhood of Manchester, the residents of the Zetland Passive House can access everything they need by foot or bicycle. Chorlton's popular independent shops, public schools, and neighbourhood parks are all within a 5 minute walk (500m) from the property. The city centre can be accessed via the tram or bus system, which is also 500 metres from the passive house. This project exemplifies low carbon design from construction, build, to lifestyle.

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 Passive House
 energy efficiency

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